With Denver’s loss in the playoffs, the dust is settling somewhat on the Tim Tebow news hype, and it is time for me to vent a bit at the media frenzy that has made this an event. I have some thoughts about this public praying, football slinging, media promoted, and public adored Tebow event.
First, the good stuff. What I like about the high level of attention in the media and in the public includes the following:
1. The media is talking about something in the religious realm other than political issues.
2. It is nice that the news about a professional athlete is about personal faith and not guns, crime, and dog fighting.
3. That a conversation about prayer and its impact on a person’s life is in the news.
4. It is good to see that people, youth in particular, are finding some hope in faith and prayer.
Then, the stuff that drives me crazy:
1. Do we really believe the somehow Tim Tebow has been chosen by God to demonstrate God’s power through football victories? Does God invest in the outcome of the NFL games?
2. Since when did a nationally televised dramatic display of prayer posture become the symbol of spirituality? I’ve always had a problem with drama around public prayer. Tebow is too much of an exhibitionist for me. Tebowing isn’t praying - it’s parading.
The amazing thing is that apparently the US population, fueled by the media, still has interest in the David and Goliath paradigm. You know the story: small undersized boy, undergirded by God and a simple faith, sleighs the giant warrior of the evil empire. It is an enduring story and one that has been popular for centuries. David, Luke Skywalker, Tim Tebow… ? The problem is that the storyline needs to deal with something that really matters – on a universal and spiritual scale to make sense. I just don’t get how Tebow’s situation is anything more than a passing sentimental David and Goliath story. Is there really anything of godly significance here? This is football we are dealing with – not global military domination or genocide.
When a professional athlete, parading around in prayer and Jesus language becomes the poster child for faith in action we have a real problem. One glance at the lives of some real spiritual warriors - Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., George Fox, Desmond Tutu, Mata Amritanandamayi – reveals lives lived in self sacrifice and service of others for causes that were not self promoting. While I have reasons to believe Tim Tebow is a caring person, it appears he has, unfortunately been led to (and willingly followed) a position of a plastic and shallow public display under the guise of spirituality. All the while, we have run screaming to adore the latest rock star of American Christianity (Tim Tebow has over 1.5 million subscribers to his Facebook page).
Forgive me if I wish him well, kick dust on the media and walk the other way while trying to remember something of more substance.